Diet sodas Linked to an Increase in Belly Fat

diet sodas linked to increase in belly fat


New research finds diet sodas linked to an increase in belly fat. Elderly people regularly drinking diet sodas had more belly fat compared to people not consuming artificially sweetened beverages.

Artificial sweeteners are compounds that replace sugar in drinks and food, giving drinks and food a sweet taste without adding the fattening calories. Though sweeteners are mostly safe some recent research indicating that sweeteners that go unaltered through the GI system could alter the composition of gut bacteria causing to health issues. New research finds a link between diet soda consumption and abdominal obesity in elderly people.

Diet sodas Linked to an Increase in Belly Fat

People who gain weight might try to replace sugar with artificial sweeteners in order to cut their total calorie intake. This reduction of calories should lead to a greater chance of losing those extra pounds. In recent decades many people have made this switch, the overall statistics show that both obesity and consumption of artificial sweeteners have increased over the last 30 years.

In this study researchers enrolled 749 Mexican and European-Americans aged 65 and older between 1992 and 1996. Diet soda intake, weight, height and waist circumference (belly fat) was measured at the start of the study and at three follow-ups over 9.4 years. Researchers managed to collect data on most of the participants, on average everyone in the study completed 2.64 follow-ups.

Researchers excluded factors that might influence the data like: diabetes, smoking and physical activity. Even when controlling for these factors the data still showed that diet soda drinkers had a greater increase in waist circumference. People who didn’t drink diet sodas had an average increase of 0.8 inches, occasional users 1.83 inches, and daily users had the largest circumference increase of 3.16 inches over the 9.4 year follow-up.

“The SALSA study shows that increasing diet soda intake was associated with escalating abdominal obesity, which may increase cardiometabolic risk in older adults,” Lead author Sharon Fowler.

Though only a correlation, earlier studies have found that artificial sweeteners can affect blood sugar metabolism which could help explain the weight gain. Other studies have found that diet sodas actually reduce the caloric intake, this conflicting data on belly fat increases and diet products might be solved by further research.

Image Credit: Keri Klassen via, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0